Ashford, we have touchdown (or is it liftoff?)! I’m stepping out of space travel to follow my English-major roots. Over the next 2 weeks, I will be following in the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm to learn more about what inspired the Fairy Tales we all come to know and love so much.
After a LONG flight from Bradley to Dublin, and a slightly shorter flight from Dublin to Munich, I stumbled out onto the Tarmac for a German adventure. Despite the jet lag, I hopped on the S-Bahn and headed into the heart of Munich.
Throughout the centuries, Munich served as the center for many famous writers and artist, including writers Thomas Mann and Henrik Ibsen, the “Father of Realism”, composers Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss and many other prominent figures who used Munich as a setting to create masterpieces. Munich literally translates to “home of the monks,” and was most likely founded in 750 CE by Benedictine Monks. I say “likely,” because records have not conclusively stated when the city was founded. Officially speaking, the first record of the city is from 1157, when Henry the Lion, Duke of Bavaria, helped the monks fortify the city for a marketplace.
This marketplace still exists today as Marienplatz.
In the middle ages, they held tournaments and jousting events. It’s still an events center, but today they were celebrating a Pride event. It was interesting to see such an incredibly modern event in the heart of such amazing history.
Marienplatz had many cool historical landmarks- including the Town Hall- but my favorite was the Glockenspiel, which is a clock that features knights jousting when it hits a certain time. At 5pm, it came to life and the figures danced across. It’s amazing to think about the engineering that must have gone into something like that (note: due to the large crowed from the Pride event, this video is taken directly from Youtube.)
Wandering down the road from Marienplatz, I happened to stumble upon the famous “English Gardens.” Built in 1789, the “English Garden” is one of the largest city public parks in the world (it’s even larger than Central Park in New York City!) Interestingly enough, the “English Gardens” were originally planned as a military exercise, to give soldiers something to do after the Revolution.
Today, the park is where many local residents go on the weekends to relax. I saw several people swimming in the Eisbach (Isar) River- it was flowing so quickly, there were even several people trying to surf it! (video posted is from Youtube- I was so jet legged I totally forgot to take video!)
Whew! It was a jam-packed first day and I am exhausted! Tomorrow, I have a three hour journey to Fussen, a city in Southern Germany that borders with Austria. It also is home to several castles, including Neuschwanstein Castle, which served as Walt Disney’s inspiration for Sleeping Beauty! I can’t wait to share it with you!